Highlights: While the last blog post was rather whinny (sorry, but not every mile of the PCT is going to be fun), the hike out of Cascade Locks was again amazing for us. We took the Eagle Creek Alternate, which follows a set of amazing waterfalls. We soon climbed high into the mountains again and reached Mount Hood where we stopped at Timberline Lodge to resupply. We then took the Ramona Falls alternate, which ended in a gorgeous waterfall, with beautiful rocks. We then hit our first wildfire closure, and had to walk an arduous 30 miles on road to detour it, and were met with horse flies, no shade and no water for 30 miles. After regaining the PCT around Jefferson, we hit some patches of snow, and walked through burnt out sections for quite some ways before hitting Santiam Pass and meeting White Jeep, who gave us a ride to Bend, and introduced us to our custom GPS unit to hike the rest of the trail with.
Day 29: Cascade Locks to mile 2132, 23 miles
July 30th: After running a few more errands, and satisfying our need for town food, we headed out of Cascade Locks, taking the Eagle Creek Alternate. The trail followed steep walls with beautiful waterfalls and pools, and the trail even went right behind one of the larger water falls.
To regain the PCT, we took Indian Springs Trail, which was very steep and reminded us of what a non-stock graded trail was like. I was proud to get up it still going 2 miles an hour, as we climbed about 1000 ft per mile. Indian Creek Trail regains the PCT near the top of the ridge, and Dirt Stew and I checked the map to make sure we were walking the right direction. The trail was amazingly flat, and covered in pine needles. “Too good to be true”, Dirt Stew joked. He took out his GPS just to check our progress. “SHIT!” He shouted. We’re going the wrong way! How was this possible? We both had checked the map. We had hiked an hour or longer going northbound on the PCT, going an amazing speed on this well groomed trail. We cursed at not using a compass when we had looked at the map, and kept wondering how we made the wrong turn. We never did find out, but we probably went 4-6 miles out of our way. We still managed to do 23 trail miles, so in all we probably hiked 28 miles that day. Once we were headed in the right direction, we met a very helpful NOBO who gave us accurate information about water sources up ahead. We decided that not all NOBOs are liars. 🙂
Day 30: Mile 2132 to Timberline Lodge, 25 miles
Day 31: Timberline Lodge to Summit Lake Rd (on alternate), 31 miles
Day 32: Summit Lake Rd to mile 2045, 31 miles
August 2nd: We woke up to the sound of rumbling, and having remembered the horrible storm that was in the morning at Goat Rocks, we decided to close our eyes and sleep through it. The storm dissipated quite quickly, and we decided to get going. The road walk was tedious. There were lots and lots of horse flies attacking us all day. The sun climbed, and it got hot, and humid. Our feet hurt, and we grew very tired from chasing away the horse flies and trying to stay cool under our umbrellas. Cars passed us, and the road went from paved to gravel, and each car that passed kicked up a bunch of dust into our faces. People stared at us from inside their air-conditioned cars, and we cursed them under our breath. Only one nice man stopped his car and asked if we needed any water. We were so happy to reach the end of the detour, and find a small shack next to a lake which was renting out boats and had some cold soda to sell. We jumped in the lake, drank our soda and carried on. I was feeling exhausted, and it didn’t help that my stomach had been bothering me almost every day, making it difficult to eat enough. As we hiked on, two young men in heavy work clothing with hard hats, walkies-talkies, and axes in hand came down the trail. They smelled of smoke. We knew immediately that they were smoke jumpers, and we questioned them about the conditions. They told us there was a new fire just over the next ridge, but it was away from the PCT, and was almost out. We were glad to hear that. The air was thick with smoke and the sun shined almost red through the haze. Just a mile before we decided to camp, I got a nose bleed. I figured it was due to the dry smoky air combined with walking through the heat and not eating enough. I got into the tent and felt like I wasn’t having fun anymore. The road walk had taken its toll on me, and I was beat.
Day 33: Mile 2045 to Rock Pile Lake, 23 miles
August 3rd: We slept in past 7am to get some rest and decided to take it easier today. We passed some small snow patches, and of course with snow and snow melt come the mosquitoes.
They hadn’t been bad recently, but gaining elevation we entered back into their territory. The air was still smokey, but the terrain was nice and easy. I was still having big stomach issues, and had a very hard time eating anything. We decided that we would go into Bend at the next road crossing and get a proper meal, and some stomach medicine. As the day progressed we started walking through miles of burned forest. We met some nice NOBOs who told us all about the trail up ahead and where they stopped in towns, and which restaurants had good food, etc. We are passing many NOBOs each day, and it seems to me like they are getting nicer and nicer as we go. We camped by a very nice lake, which surprisingly had no mosquitoes. I was once again happy to be on the trail.
Day 34: Rock Pile Lake to Santiam Pass, 15 miles
August 4th: We had an easy 15 miles to get to Santiam Pass where Route 20 would take us to Bend, OR. We walked through many more miles of burned area with very little water, but the terrain was easy, and the miles went by quickly.
We passed by a NOBO who told us that a man named White Jeep and his wife Seminole were waiting for us at the Pass. What a surprise! We weren’t expecting to be intercepted by them until Shelter Cove. Perfect timing, as we needed a ride to Bend, and some good food and rest before heading on. White Jeep has been working on mapping the PCT, and wrote the Half Mile App to make it easier for hikers with smart phones to navigate. We had agreed to carry a custom GPS unit which would map the PCT as we hiked, and take notes about water sources and camping spots as we went. I was very excited to start doing this, as the information we were hiking with was obviously lacking in data. White Jeep and Seminole handed us cookies, chips, and bottled water, and drove us directly to an all you an eat buffet. As we stuffed our faces with plates of fried food and fresh vegetables, we discussed the ins and outs of using the GPS unit to log the trail for the next 2000 miles.
After doing some chores, we were happy to go to sleep early in a little motel run by an Indian family. As I put my head on the pillow I smelled Indian curry. I let my mind wander towards Indian buffets as I fell asleep.